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Buddhadharma : Spring 2015
spring 2 0 1 5 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 9 Thanks for your letters and comments on LionsRoar.com, Facebook, and Twitter in response to our Winter issue and video clips on confronting abuse. Here’s what readers had to say. I look forward to ongoing conversation about this type of abuse of power. Having been in this situation with a major practice center recently and watching what hap- pened before, during, and after the abuses were made public, I think it is high time we took a look at the causes and subtleties and give authority back to students. — Judy Enida Sheldon as Zen teachers, we would like to express our gratitude to Buddhadharma’s recent issue on abuse in Buddhist communities. We also appreciated Mr. Oppenheimer’s piece in The Atlantic for “The Zen Predator of the Upper East Side.” We are referring to the discussion and reports on the abuse of power and authority of Zen teacher Eido Shimano and others. We believe exposing this problem is a positive step in the direc- tion of preventing such abuses in the future. Many women and others in the Zen com- munity have suffered as a result, and we regret and apologize for our collective fail- ure to stop this harm. We have pledged to look and listen to our communities and to build more visible ethics codes, working toward consensus on national standards on behavior and over- sight and seeking outside consultation to educate and empower students to come for- ward if they have been abused. Unlike either our Asian counterparts or American Judeo- Christian clergy, the American Zen tradi- tion does not yet have a central authorizing body capable of sanctioning and removing a harmful teacher. Even so, as Zen Buddhist community leaders we are committed to changing the culture of silence and the idealization of the teacher’s status that has been so detrimental to students. — Signed by 90 American Zen teachers. For the full letter and signatories, go to LionsRoar.com/openletteronabuse thank you for bringing up a difficult, com- plex subject. In my own experience, I have seen two situations (involving individuals from two different religious traditions) in which leaders were accused of sexual mis- conduct. People knowing a great deal about the situations differed in their conclusions about the truth in each situation. The result in both cases was the ouster of the accused from his religious community, with dev- astating personal consequences. I am con- cerned the pendulum may swing too far in the other direction now. If our intention is to serve the dharma, then we must avoid a rush to judgment of anyone, the accuser or the accused. — Katherine Paredes I am deeply troubled by the heavy-handed insistence on “healing” and the assertions of Lama Palden and Alan Senauke that some victims simply don’t want to heal. Their attitudes sound ominously like the sometimes-coercive Christian insistence that victims must forgive their attackers or face condemnation and accusations that they don’t want to heal. The victims deserve a choice and a voice (the overriding voice) in their healing and should not to be subjected to coercion masked as healing on someone else’s timetable. — Arlynda Boyer feedback